Wild for the Night is about Wyatt (James Maslow), who is at the end of a stint in prison and rehab when he receives a distressed phone call from his little sister Sherilyn (Tyne Stecklein). The call ends with Sheri being shot, and soon, Wyatt is headed back to Los Angeles to figure out who killed his sister. His first lead is the club where she used to work. Wyatt hustles his way into a job at the club, and slowly gather clues that will lead him to his sister's killer. At the same time, a pair of crooked cops forces him to look into the case of a mysterious new drug dealer, and a gangster puts him to work to pay off his sister’s debt.
And that's not all. There's also the matter of his budding relationship with Emma (Caitlin McHugh), who happens to be the daughter of the owner of the club where his sister was supposed to have died. Emma has her own little arc, the young dancer dreaming of leaving behind her life at the club. There's a lot going on in this movie, and this results in wild shifts of tone and a general lack of focus. It's throwing everything in there, the movie desperate to be cool. And as we all know, this approach rarely ever works out.
This is a crime film that is also a dance film that is also a mystery film that is also a romance. And one might need to mention that there is a big twist at the very end. It should go without saying that it would be very hard for a film to pull all these elements together. And this particular movie isn't at all equipped to handle any of this. The mystery is at the center of this movie, and it makes absolutely no sense. It makes no sense while it's happening, and it makes even less sense once the twist is deployed. It is supremely stupid, and it isn't at all worth figuring out.
The romance is another non-starter, especially when you consider what else happens in this film. I don't want to give too much away, but the film has its main character getting away with doing some pretty terrible things, and one of those things has a deep and profound effect in Emma. The film plays their union as a happy possibility, completely ignoring the fact that Wyatt is keeping a very big secret from her, causing her to believe things that bring her incredible pain. The dance stuff is awful, because the filmmakers don't seem to know how to shoot dancing.
The film just keeps doing unnecessary things for the sake of appearing cool. But none of it means anything. It breaks up the story into four named chapters, but there is no real thematic division between them. It employs all manner of flashy editing techniques, all of it making the film more difficult to watch. The acting is no good, either. James Maslow broods through the lead role with little charisma. He shares very little chemistry with his co-star Caitlin McHugh. Both are fine dancers, probably, but the film doesn’t make them look very good.
Wild for the Night is a film that very much believes in its own coolness. It postures with its flashy editing techniques and talk of the commercialization of the EDM scene. And none of it means anything. This film is so desperate to be cool that it achieves the opposite. The desperation is dripping in every scene, the film trying to replicate the aura of much better films, tossing together into a big mishmash that just feels entirely lame.
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